Travelling to NZ and surviving Managed Isolation
Who could have known that at the beginning of October 2019, the world would have changed so much. Finally, after one failed attempt due to cancelled flights, we are finally here, back in good ole NZ, biding away our time in managed isolation for two weeks looking forward to catching up with family and friends.
International Travel is a totally different animal to what it was before. Having to book isolation space and coordinating that with flights is challenging. Ensuring that all travel documents are in order, making sure you can actually get back into the country you have come from, and hoping they don't change the rules once you do manage to get flights. Unscrupulous airlines selling flights that don't exist, people buying tickets, and then finding out that the countries will not allow transit from certain destinations. Add the threefold cost of tickets, expensive and often difficult to get COVID testing, delayed results, and the managed isolation costs and extra time away.... flying internationally is a minefield. We have friends from Europe, living in Japan and they have thrown in the towel and decided it's just too hard. Another good friend from the UK has had his first Japanese Christmas in over 20 years rather than go home.
A very quiet Narita Airport, and all those poor bastards having their flights cancelled.
Narita is one of two international airports in Tokyo and is currently the only Air New Zealand option. Unfortunately it's three times further from where we live to Hanera Airport which we can actually see from our 23rd Floor apartment. We were very lucky to get offered a ride with all our gear, as we had been trying to reduce time spent in Public Transport. After all this time staying healthy, it would have been tragedy to become infected somewhere in transit. As it was, it seems a family on our flight tested positive for Covid 19 upon arrival in NZ. Fortunately we were not listed as close contacts. There were roughly 30 people on our flight, 3 of us flying premium. The only time we were remotely close to the unfortunate family was on the Bus from Auckland Airport to the Airport Novotel. Maybe 30 minutes total and fortunately, it seems they never transmitted to anyone else in our travel group.
NZ greeted us with a spectacular sunrise.
Getting through Auckland Airport was a breeze. We were the only flight in at the time and I would estimate from the time we landed to the time we arrived at the Novotel would have been as little as 90 minutes. Our room was more than adequate and perfectly comfortable, with a 4th floor view of the exercise area, King sized bed and modern bathroom facilities. Our quarantine home for the next 14 days.
A room with a view.
On day One we were required to undertake our first of three Covid 19 tests. I suspect the nurse had been dragged out of retirement and did her training during the early 1700's. I've been tested multiple times and although never pleasant, my right nostril felt like it had been reamed with a toilet brush. After testing it was 48 hours of room confinement until our results came through. There was a little concern when we first heard of two, then several other passengers from our flight testing positive but we were assured during our morning health check that we were not considered close contact and were low risk. We passed the time pacing up and down our little 7 meter passage, reading, watching Netflix and exercising with the bungee sets we brought with us. We also managed to get the PS4 working so we had plenty to occupy our time.
The results we were hoping for, and killing the long days.
Day 3 we received our all clear and were given the All Clear to start using the exercise areas. It was a welcome relief to start moving properly again, even if was only a concrete carpark. As for the food, absolutely no complaints. No two identical meals over a seven day period. Fruit, yoghurt, healthy drinks, bottled water, and nicely prepared courses with allergy and vegetarian options if desired.
Lots of food... not always the heathiest options, meant lots of walking.
On day 7 of our managed isolation they changed the rules for use of the exercise area as a result of failings at other facilities. Where before we could pretty much got out and walk circuits as much as we liked, now we had to pre-book the previous day and were limited to 1hr slots, once per day. Unfortunately the first day was a failed experiment having the opposite effect as desired. Not particularly well thought through as so often we see from government departments, the morning session was packed and hardly anyone outside during later timeslots. To their credit they did alter the booking system after the earlier fiasco but really should never have happened. Clearly rushed process as a result of media using fear to help the government control the narrative.
How does one spend one's time in Managed Isolation?
Day 10 of Managed Isolation. Really into quite a good routine now. Breakfast around 7:30, then a little work. Around 9:30 it's workout time using the Bungee straps we brought from Japan. Then some more work followed by lunch at mid-day. I might then play some Playstation while Pania works, before going for our daily allotted 1hr walk session around the carpark. I am now comfortably walking 4km over the hour. Back to our room, then it's Playstation, Dinner around 6pm, TV and drinkies to round out the day.
Day 12 and we were getting a little anxious with the bad press around issues being had at the Pullman Isolation facility. Numerous transmissions inside the facility and post release positive diagnosis saw pressure mounting for extended stays or additional self isolation after being released. After getting our final COVID test of our stay it became a matter of wait and hope. It also meant we were confined to our room until day 14 when we would be released.
Day 14 came and after much anticipation we were finally allowed to be released. It was a good feeling after such a long time, first being unable to travel, then finally getting to New Zealand and having to sit out two weeks. I truly feel for those people who are struggling to get home, and not in the fortunate position we were in. Travelling with kids is hard enough, but add two weeks cooped in a hotel room would not be much fun at all. And those people struggling to Co-ordinate flights and booking Isolation slots.